Monday, November 28, 2011

Men's Hockey - at RIT (25 Nov)

Ten days after a serious kick in the crotch at home against Union, RPI was afforded the opportunity to turn things around on the road in a non-conference game - not quite the same kind of bang that you'd get out of a  home league contest, but a lower-pressure situation to be sure. With a little creative changing to the lines, Seth Appert and the Engineers emerged winners from their first ever trip to RIT as freshman Scott Diebold picked up his first career win and shutout, 2-0.




With Matt Neal still out with an ankle injury which now may see him sidelined through Christmas, RPI was dealt another blow on the injury front as Patrick Cullen sustained an injury against Union that kept him from making the trip to Rochester.

The only line to remain intact from the Union debacle was the line of Alex Angers-Goulet, Johnny Rogic, and Joel Malchuk. Brock Higgs was moved onto Jacob Laliberte's wing and paired with top forward scorer Ryan Haggerty, while Mark McGowan returned to the lineup in relief of Cullen. Also, Guy Leboeuf did not make an appearance, with Luke Curadi suiting up in his stead.

The Engineers got things going quickly, generating a number of good chances during the first 20 minutes and forcing RIT's Shane Madalora to make 9 stops in the opening period. The only power play of the period went to RIT as Mike Bergin was called for what would be the first of three minor penalties on the night, but the RPI penalty kill stopped the chance without too much hassle.

The game's turning point arrived just 28 seconds into the second period, as RIT's Brad McGowan was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a borderline call of hitting Bergin from behind. That gave the Engineers their first - and ultimately, only - power play opportunity of the night, but they definitely made it count.

A little under a minute into the major, Nick Bailen took a shot off a pass from Jacob Laliberte that was well screened in front by Josh Rabbani. The big senior forward got right in Madalora's line of sight and then further distracted by leaping over Bailen's shot, which found the back of the net to put RPI up 1-0 on the junior defenseman's third goal of the year.

1:10 later, while still on the major power play, the Engineers struck again, this time with Ryan Haggerty notching his third of the campaign on a nicely timed alley-oop pass from Brock Higgs. The sophomore, who usually suits up at center, pushed a pass laterally through the slot that Haggerty found and immediately one-timed into the back of the net on a play that RPI has tried in practically every game, but as part of their difficulties finishing had generally been unable to convert.

That would do it for the scoring on the five minute advantage, and for much of the remainder of the period, it was penalty kill time for the Engineers. Bergin picked up practically back-to-back calls midway through the period to keep RPI down a man, and calls against Curadi for boarding and Curtis Leonard for cross-checking rounded out the second period. Diebold was called upon to make 11 saves in the middle frame, giving him 16 on 16 shots for the first 40 minutes.

RIT picked things up a little in the third, doing well on Leonard's penalty - the majority of which was held over into the period - and on Joel Malchuk's hooking call four and a half minutes in. During the last 20 minutes, RIT hit a pair of posts, but were unable to get any closer to beating Diebold, who finished with 25 saves in the shutout.

RPI also unleashed some good offense in the third, as they did throughout the game. Madalora finished with 28 shots, and several times in the third period the Engineers came close to increasing their lead. That bodes well for the team going forward as they continue to try to shake their offensive funk which, as we will note shortly, still has some important kinks to work out.

Other junk - Union's stunning destruction of Michigan at Yost Arena boosted the Dutchmen into the national top 10 this week, they pace the ECAC as the 9th ranked team (up four). Also ranked in the ECAC are #14 Yale (lost to Sacred Heart and Boston College, down six), #15 Colgate (beat Vermont, up one) and #17 Cornell (lost to BU, no change). #2 Notre Dame (split with Lake Superior, no change), #6 Ferris State (idle, up one) and #8 Colorado College (swept by North Dakota, down four) are also ranked. Receiving votes were UMass-Lowell (17), Clarkson (5), and Harvard (1).

RPI has gone 440:04 without scoring an even strength goal - that came on Patrick Cullen's first goal of the year, scored 10 seconds after a Colorado College goal in the first meeting between the two sides. That's 4 seconds more than 22 consecutive periods. No, you aren't reading that wrong.

In all but one RPI game this year - the 5-2 loss to Notre Dame - one team or the other (or both) have scored either 1 or 0 goals in the game. Frequently, that's been RPI, but across the Engineers' three wins, they've given up just one goal, underscoring the importance of defense on this team.

Slowly improving, the RPI power play is now up to 10.4% on the season, technically going 2-for-3 on the advantage against RIT. A 6-for-6 night on the penalty kill increased the Engineers' PK rating to 87.5%, 12th best in the country.

One final league weekend of the first semester is on tap for RPI next weekend as they travel to Princeton and Quinnipiac, and we'll find out there if the offensive improvements seen at RIT will be able to carry forward into the rest of the season.

ECAC Standings
1. Cornell - 10 pts (5-1-0)
2. Colgate - 8 pts (4-2-0, +7 GD)
3. St. Lawrence - 8 pts (4-2-0, +1 GD)
4. Dartmouth - 7 pts (3-3-1)
5. Yale - 6 pts (3-1-0)
6. Union - 6 pts (3-2-0)
7. Harvard - 6 pts (2-3-2, -1 GD)
8. Clarkson - 5 pts (2-3-1, +1 GD)
9. Brown - 4 pts (2-2-0)
10. Princeton - 4 pts (2-5-0)
11. Quinnipiac - 4 pts (1-4-2)
12. RPI - 2 pts (1-4-0)

Non-Conference Game - Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena (Henrietta, NY)
11/25/11 - 7:00pm


College Hockey Stats


RECORD: 3-10-0 (1-4-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Upcoming games
02 Dec - at Princeton
03 Dec - at Quinnipiac
10 Dec - vs. #9 Union (Lake Placid, NY)
29 Dec - vs. UMass-Lowell (Storrs, CT)
30 Dec - vs. Army OR at UConn (Storrs, CT)

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